Thursday, January 31, 2013

Billy Graham Library will salute 104-year-old Shea

Impressed that Billy Graham is still going at 94 years old? Well, he's but a kid compared to George Beverly Shea, who turns 104 on Friday!
For decades, Shea's baritone was a highlight at Graham Crusades as he sang "How Great Thou Art" and "I'd Rather Have Jesus."
To honor his big birthday, Charlotte's Billy Graham Library will offer a special exhibit, starting Friday. It's called "How Sweet the Sound: A Tribute to George Beverly Shea."
Included will be memorabilia from the legendary Gospel singer's long career, which started on Chicago radio. Highlights of the display include the piano on which he composed the music to the popular hymn “I’d Rather Have Jesus;” his Lifetime Achievement Grammy (awarded in 2011) and a Western Electric Model 633A "Salt Shaker" microphone that Shea used at WMBI in Chicago in the early 1940s.

"I would feel lost getting up to preach if Bev were not there to prepare the way through an appropriate song," Billy Graham wrote about Shea in his autobiography. "But I will always be grateful not only for his musical contributions to our Crusades but also for his warm spirit and his personal friendship over the years."
These days, Shea and his wife live in Montreat --  less than a mile away from the Graham home.
 The Library's exhibit is free and will go until March 31. Guests will have the opportunity to write a personal birthday greeting to Shea during its opening week.
The Billy Graham Library is at 4330 Westmont Drive. It's open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

 Watch the library's tribute video at its site. You'll have to click on "George Beverly Shea at 104," then on "Events," and then on "'How Sweet the Sound: A Tribute to George Beverly Shea." It's worth all the clicking: You'll get snippets some of some of Shea;s vintage performances.
-- Tim Funk
Watch the library's tribute video.

Poll: 3-in-10 say God will help decide Super Bowl

Who will win Sunday's Super Bowl? God only knows -- literally. Or so say nearly 3-in-10 Americans in a new survey.

The Public Religion Institute found that 27 percent of those polled in its January tracking survey believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins sports events.

In the football-lovin' South, an even greater percentage -- 36 percent -- think the Almighty has a stake in the outcome of games on the field.

The survey also found that a majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- do agree that God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success. Forty-two percent said no way that's right.

But there's also this finding: 41 percent of those surveyed said they watch sports at least once a week, while only 37 percent said they go to a house of worship at least once a week.

Check out more findings.

A random sample of 1,033 adults were interviewed Jan. 16-20. Margin of error: 3.5 percentage points.

-- Tim Funk

CLT: One of America's top 'Bible-minded' cities

Hello from the Observer's new/old Faith & Values reporter!

After more than a year of covering politicians -- especially the ones who came to town for the DNC -- I am back to covering preachers in and around Charlotte.

The same Charlotte, by the way, that was recently named one of America's "10 Most Bible-Minded Cities" in America.

That's according to a new ranking by the New York-based American Bible Society, which surveyed residents' regular Bible reading and belief in the Good Book's accuracy.

Charlotte was No. 7 on the national Top 10 list, and well ahead of Asheville/Greenville/Spartanburg (No. 11), Winston-Salem (No. 19) and Raleigh-Durham (No. 22).

Big cities like Charlotte rarely make these kinds of lists. In fact, the folks at the American Bible Society say, only three of the Top 25 Bible-minded markets have populations of more than a million souls -- Charlotte; Nashville, Tenn; and Raleigh-Durham.

So what is THE most Bible-minded city? Knoxville, Tenn.

And the LEAST-Bible minded market, according to the survey conducted by the Barna Group: Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass.

-- Tim Funk